The United States Attorney in North Dakota has charged seven oil companies in seven separate cases with violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for the illegal killing of 28 migratory birds. Yet, American Bird Conservancy – the nation’s leading bird conservation organization – reports that the wind industry, despite killing more than 400,000 birds annually, has yet to face a single charge.Wind turbine blades kill big birds by whacking them. They also kill thousands of bats by creating sudden low pressure which causes the bats' lungs to explode, but wind turbines are "green" energy producers so apparently they get a pass. Meanwhile, those nasty oil companies responsible for the demise of a couple dozen ducks must be punished to the full extent of the law. The bureaucratic mindset really is a thing to behold.
The oil-related bird deaths, which included members of twelve different species, occurred between May 4 and June 20, 2011. The statutory maximum sentence for violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is six months in federal prison and a $15,000 fine. The date for the initial appearances for the seven companies is set for September 22, 2011, in United States District Court, Bismarck, North Dakota.
“I commend the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Justice Department for enforcing the law in these cases. Oil pits are a known hazard to birds and the solutions to prevent these bird deaths are straightforward to implement,” said American Bird Conservancy President George Fenwick. “It is perplexing that similar prosecutions have yet to be brought against the operators of wind farms. Every year wind turbines kill hundreds of thousands of birds, including eagles, hawks, and songbirds, but the operators are being allowed to get away with it. It looks like a double standard.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) estimated in 2009 that about 440,000 birds were being killed by wind turbines. With an anticipated twelve-fold wind energy build-out by the year 2030, bird mortality is expected to dramatically increase in the coming years, absent significant changes in the way wind farms are sited and operated. Based on studies, one wind farm in California is estimated to have killed more than 2,000 eagles, plus thousands of other birds, yet no prosecution has been initiated for violations of federal laws protecting birds.
Here's a video showing how large, soaring birds like raptors are especially vulnerable to the turbine's blades: There are many threats to birds in the modern landscape: Cell phone and radio towers, tall buildings, feral cats, cars, toxins etc. but few things threaten the large birds like wind turbines.
At any rate, the question is why single out oil companies for stiff fines for the harm they cause, which is relatively minor, and give every other source of harm, many of them far more serious, a shrug?